“Ava? Hello?” A small hand waved in front of Avas blue eyes.

“Huh, oh, hey. What were you saying?”

Ava and a girl about her age sat at a cafeteria table together, talking amongst each other. Well, it seemed that the girl spent quite a lot of time talking, but Ava seemed to be absentminded.

Still, even in such a state, her tight leather clothing made the boys and even some girls in the area steal several glances.

The girl gave Ava a weird look.

“Youve been out of it for a while. I was trying to tell you about my cultivation manual. I suggest you switch. The foundation stage is all about preparing your body to sustain the influx of energy that comes with the meridian formation stage, but how could you expect my dainty body to accept so much extra muscle?

“Cant I be a martial artist and stay elegant at the same time? Its like the martial gods have no remorse for the feelings of women. I asked Elder Lena for help and she suggested a change for me. The muscle you gain is much less obvious, but the trade off is that surpassing the 3rd and 4th layer is much harder.

“You know the 1st layer is building strength and the 2nd is about building flesh, so this cultivation method spends less on those, and the trade off is more time spent building your bones and marrow. I could use some extra umph in my hip bones, Im trying to be as curvy as you. Hey! Are you listening?”

The girl, who had begun to ramble again, realized that Ava had grown dazed once more.

“Huh, oh, yea I was listening. What if you become big boned though?”

“Dont be ridiculous, the technique is about increasing bone density and durability. Its just changing the matter that makes up bones, size wont change noticeably, I was joking about my hips,” The girl sighed, “Something big must have happened for you to be so out of it. Tell your bestie, who do I have to beat up?”

“Stop it Tammy, its nothing like that. I was just thinking about Darius and his antics recently.”

“Darius Storm? I heard that someone was ballsy enough to provoke him? Some first year, if I remember correctly.”

Ava sighed, “Hes from a family Ive never heard of honestly. Dyon Sacharro. Have you heard of him?”

If Dyon had been there, he would have been stunned. He had long since forgotten about this Darius person and had no idea the latter was looking for him. And not only that, apparently the news had been spread quite far.

“Sacharro? None of the martial families that go to this school share that family name I dont think,” Tammys eyes glazed over in thought, “Oh! But I did hear a rumor the other day.”

“A rumor? What about?”

“I hear the academy accepted a student from the human world,” Tammy said in a hushed voice.

“The human world? That would explain a lot…”

“So, the rumor is true?”

“Well, I think so. He had all of this weird technology Ive never seen before. Even a weird disk that stopped about 50% of my strength without a scratch.”

“50%?!” Tammy said in shock.

“Thats not even the end of it. The reason I think youre right is because he had no cultivation whatsoever. Even those from the weakest of families have at least stepped into the lower tier of the 1st foundation layer, but he showed no signs of ever having practiced a cultivation method.

“Hes completely green. To come to an academy like this with no cultivation, no backing, and no idea whats going on? He has a death wish. The idiot almost dipped his hand into one of the energy ponds, if it wasnt for me, hed be dead, twice over.”

A hint of a peculiar light flashed in Tammys gaze when she heard about Dyons pond incident. Was there really someone so stupid?

“Twice over? You must have saved him from Darius too,” Tammy giggled, “Youre soft. I didnt know you had a thing for commoners.”

Ava glared at her friend, “Stop it. Hes handsome, sure. But there are plenty of handsome guys here. Looking good isnt going to help you when youre lying in the ground, dead.”

Ava looked away when she said this, seemingly trying to think of guys as handsome. But, she actually drew a blank. Luckily, Tammy hadnt seemed to notice.

Tammy giggled, “Theres the cold-hearted Ava I know and love.”

‘Its already been three weeks and I havent seen him since. That idiot hasnt even shown up to any of his classes and theres already an examination coming up soon. I really dont know what hes thinking.

This wasnt normal school. If teachers hated you in Focus Academy, it could very well cost you your life. This was especially so if you had no backing.

A mere commoner daring to skip classes? Which teacher would accept that?

A serious look suddenly flashed across Tammys face, abruptly stopping her laughter as though she suddenly remembered something.

“The tournament is coming up in a few months you know Ava, are you going this time? I know youre strong enough to make it into those Big Sects, you need to stop holding yourself back because of him.”

A sad look appeared on Avas face.

“Hes my brother… I cant just forget about him. 4th years dont just die like that, Tammy. You know my brother was strong enough to make it into the Big Sects too. In fact, he already had multiple offers. But, he chose to stay here to perfect his wills to a new level because of that place in the center pillar.

“I know Im not strong enough to go there yet, but… I have to find out what happened,” Tears glistened in Avas eyes, threatening to fall, but she fought them off.

“I will find out.”

Tammy looked at the determination in her friends eyes, “I just dont want you to lose so many years of your life. Promise me that you wont spend a 3rd year here. Promise me that youll participate in the tournament and let those Big Sects see that you AND your big brother are special.”

A troubled look flashed across Avas face, she knew her friend was right. People die in the martial world all the time, not everyone could have a proper burial. She just never thought her brother would be one too. He used to be a shining light in their family, but now…

“Alright. I promise. This is the last year Ill spend looking.”

A smile appeared on Tammys small face. Her blue eyes and blond hair bobbed together in excitement.

“Alright, now lets get to the fun stuff. The pillar family seniors are hosting a party for their juniors and of course you and I are invited. You because youre a top ranked and I because Im obviously ridiculously beautiful. How could you have a party without me?

“Its in a week and I forbid you to wear leather. Lets go to Bai Peak and look at some dresses. Maybe we can find a cheongsam to match those outrageous curves of yours,” Tammy said pulling her friend along.

Ava shook her head in exasperation, but in the end, she just giggled and allowed herself to enjoy the moment.

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